Real Food Challenge, Week 4

It’s the final week of the Real Food Challenge! I’m a little sad, but excited to continue experimenting and putting to use everything I’ve learned!

First up: the topic of meat. This is one of the topics that sent me head-first into the world of organic foods, after watching with horror and disgust (and quite frankly, anger) the movie Food, Inc. Just the sight of the labels of the big meat companies makes me want to write a million letters to my government representatives (not to mention, avoid it like the plague!) Thank goodness I have shopping options locally to buy organically raised meats. Grass-finished for me!

Next – eggs! I was so excited to discover a farm literally a couple blocks from my house that sells organic eggs. One of these days (when it gets warmer out!), I may even walk there to get my eggs!

I’m going to need some time before I take the step involving homemade broth…. I have issues with bones in meat! The thought of making a broth from chicken feet makes me want to hide under my desk and claim vegetarianism. I have an odd internal struggle with eating meat. I’m an animal lover, and really the only way I can manage to eat meat is if the meat doesn’t remind me of the animal. I’m over-sensitive in this regard, but it is what it is and I am what I am. I can’t eat chicken on bones, for example, and I’m certain that I will never be able to make a broth from a chicken’s foot!

For this same reason, organ meats are going to be hard for me – though the idea of blending them into a bolognese sauce sounds like it might be possible. It’s on my longer term list of things to do.

I don’t eat seafood, so day #26 is out! Well, OK. I’m not ruling this one out completely. I’ve never really tried most seafood, and while I’ve already blown away my New Year’s resolution of trying 10 new foods this year (finished that up in January!), I might…. might…. try seafood this year. I’m thinking maybe a non-fishy fish. The good news is that if I do, I will definitely be sure it is wild-caught, and with that, the most tasty and nutritious version possible!

Day #27 asked us to give back to the movement. I can’t wait until spring springs here in Chicago, because I have big plans to get involved with my local farmers’ market. I’m also hoping to give back by sharing what I learn via this blog and my Facebook.

This has been an exciting ride! I’m looking forward to trying some of the techniques I didn’t have time to get to during the month of February.

For those who didn’t get to complete the Real Food Challenge, here are the guidelines as described by (Thanks, Jenny!!)

  • Stay natural & unrefined.
  • Avoid modern, processed foods.
  • Sour, sprout, or soak.
  • Love healthy fats.
  • Brew mineral-rich stock.
  • Eat grass-fed, pasture-raised, and wild-caught.
  • Keep dairy raw and fresh.
  • Get your good bacteria.
  • Get involved.
  • Maximize nutrient density.

I’m proud to check most of those off of my list as new habits! Thanks again to Jenny and Nourished Kitchen. This challenge has been fun and eye-opening – and I will continue to work on the lessons in the coming weeks and months.

Egg Puffs with Stealth Ninja Squash

I’m back! Sorry for the absence – I spent 8 days in New Mexico attending a photography workshop. It was the hardest working “vacation” I’ve ever had! And after a week of struggling to eat well, I’m back home and back at the vegetables! Hallelujah!

So let’s get to it!

It was slim pickings for dinner tonight, as my cupboards are nearly bare – but I did have enough to pull together another recipe from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook. With that, I bring you Baked Egg Puffs with Stealth Ninja Squash! Sadly, there will be no pictures this evening, as I’ve spent so much time with my camera over the last week that we need a couple days apart. (I still have over 1,800 photos to go through from the trip!)

This recipe was super easy to make, and was quite delicious! Whisk together a few ingredients and throw it into the oven. As for its stealth ninja qualities, I think kids (or adults!) could be easily fooled with this one. It’s almost not necessary though, as the squash tastes really good with the eggs! I’ve learned from this stealth ninja vegetable experiment that I actually like squash (butternut squash, in this case). I had my egg puff with a side of veggie sausage patties – a wonderful breakfast-for-dinner!

The recipe suggests making the puffs in ramekins or small coffee cups. I, unfortunately, had neither, so I used larger coffee cups. Be aware that you might need to add a few minutes to the bake time with larger cups – I had to tack on 5 extra minutes. My puffs looked nothing like the picture in the cookbook, but I also used too much squash, so that might have affected it. Handsome puffs or not, they tasted great! I could even see throwing in some chopped peppers or onions (but that would defeat the stealth-ninja purpose).

[recipe-show recipe=egg-puffs]

Breakfast for Dinner

Tonight, we have some breakfast for dinner with the latest Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment: Cauliflower.

Now, I’ve actually had some success in the past coaxing cauliflower into going all stealth-ninja on me, in the form of fake mashed potatoes (one of the few recipes I actually liked back in my low-carb days). I expected similar success from the Scrambled Egg recipe in Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cook book.

The recipe is super-easy (assuming you already have your veggie purees made up – which I do!). Toss the eggs, egg whites, sour cream, puree, and parmesan into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk it all up, toss it into a hot skillet with some olive oil, and scramble!

I added some pepper to my eggs, and must say – they were pretty darned tasty. I could see a kid falling for the deception. There were no obvious signs that any vegetables were in the vicinity. These eggs had some substance to them – they were more dense than your typical scrambled egg, but in a good way. They were still fluffy and maintained most of the texture of a typical scrambled egg.

The use of egg whites decreases the cholesterol in this recipe. I imagine it would work just as well with Egg Beaters or a similar egg substitute. I used to use Egg Beaters, but have recently gone back to real eggs in a step back towards eating real food.

I’ll definitely make these eggs again! They actually made a filling dinner, with an organic English muffin on the side.

[recipe-show recipe=eggs-cauliflower]